Four Pittsburgh City Council members scolded the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority on Monday for ongoing customer service and billing issues — including in some cases thousands of dollars in incorrect charges and bills that fail to arrive — that have outraged constituents and monopolized their staffs’ time. Natalia Rudiak noted that her office still receives two to six PWSA-related complaints weekly, sometimes requiring several hours of attention. “It’s an inappropriate use of city taxpayer dollars to help navigate something that is an independent entity and not our responsibility,” she said. “We are simply relaying the anger that our constituency is relaying to us.” Interim Executive Director David Donahoe said a rushed “marriage” of a new billing system and new meter-interface units that use wireless technology to relay usage information caused incorrect billing, overwhelming customer service staff.
LADWP REACHES $44 MILLION OVERBILLING SETTLEMENT The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has settled a lawsuit brought on by about 1.6 million customers who were excessively charged during the rollout of a new billing system. EMBED By ABC7.com staff Monday, August 17, 2015 LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power settled a class-action lawsuit Monday brought on by about 1.6 million customers who were excessively charged during the rollout of a new billing system in 2013. The landmark settlement will assure the return of over $44 million to customers who were overbilled for water, electricity and other services. Landskroner Grieco Merriman, LLC, said in a statement that the settlement also requires that the department invest $20 million in a comprehensive overhaul of its billing system, establish new rules as to how the public utility bills its customers, and appoints an independent monitor to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement over the next 18 months. “Families and small businesses have enough financial stress,” said consumer rights attorney Jack Landskroner. “We set out to make sure every customer would be made whole. Under this settlement agreement, every single customer who was overcharged will have their money returned. Thankfully, the LADWP took the overbilling problem seriously and understood both the legal and moral obligation to right this injustice and resolve this matter in the best interests of the ratepayers.” LADWP customers will not have to file any claims to receive refunds, which will be paid out automatically. DWP officials said the average rebate for customers would be relatively small, around $10. The money will be credited to bills or refunded if the account is closed and must be completed by the end of next June. The city is currently suing PricewaterhouseCoopers to try to recoup all the money for that botched system it installed. City News Service contributed to this report.
Customers with the Snohomish County Public Utility District are upset over utility bills they say seem way too high. Snohomish public utility customers are complaining they are being charged for energy they haven’t actually used. “It went basically from around $50 a month, to over $72 for their new single monthly bill,” Chris Appel said. Appel was surprised to see his bill go up when he had taken steps to reduce his energy consumption. “My problem is they are collecting extra money from me and doing what they want with it for electricity that I haven’t even used,” Appel said. The problems started this fall when the PUD switched from a bi-monthly billing schedule to a monthly billing schedule. The district didn’t also increase the frequency of meter readings used to the determine the bill, forcing the district to base bills every other month on estimated usage. Appel complains those estimates are too high. “When I had a conflict with the bill I came out and looked at the actual meter reading,” Appel said. “You know, eight days after the billing cycle, I still hadn’t reached the 82,000 KWH they had estimated.” The Snohomish PUD said the switch to monthly billing was part of a system upgrade and added that switching to monthly meter readings as well would have been too expensive. The PUD said the estimated bills may be slightly incorrect but added that the bill will balance out the next month when the meter is read.